‘We’re running out of time’

It’s safe to say the Secretary of the Treasury is feeling some anxiety.

During a visit to Capitol Hill on Thursday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner implored Congress to raise the debt ceiling and to send a “definitive signal” to the world that America will avoid default, warning that “we’re running out of time.”

“We’ve looked at all available options and we have no way to give Congress more time to solve this problem. We’re running out of time,” Geithner said at a news conference after meeting with Senate Democrats.

“The eyes of the country are on us. The eyes of the world are on us, and we need to make sure we stand together and send a definitive signal that we’re going to take the steps necessary to avoid default and also take advantage of this opportunity to make some progress in dealing with our long-term fiscal problems,” he added. “We don’t have much time; it’s time we move.”

Putting aside, at least for now, whether Tim Geithner is my favorite Treasury Secretary of all time or not, I’ve been thinking a bit lately about what it must be like to be in his shoes right now.

When he was sworn in two-and-a-half years ago, I imagine he had a lengthy list of overwhelming crises that demanded his immediate attention. As some of those pressures subsided, Geithner probably began evaluating how to deal with the next series of possible crises.

The list probably included concerns over Europe, the U.S. housing market, abrupt changes in China, the effects of instability in the Middle East, etc.

It almost certainly never occurred to Tim Geithner that the single greatest threat to the global economy in 2011 is the criminal stupidity of congressional Republicans and their desire to prevent the United States government from paying its bills.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation